Officials Oppose Lane Name Change

SNOW HILL – The name of a lane off Flower Street in Berlin will not change following a vote by county officials.

The Worcester County Commissioners last week voted unanimously not to change the name of Ned Purnell Lane to Leonard Lane.

“I don’t see the need for this,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said.

Staff advised the commissioners that an application had been received for the renaming of the private Ned Purnell Lane to Leonard Lane. The Worcester County Department of Development Review and Permitting reported that there were 11 property owners that had frontage on the lane. Four property owners were in favor of the change and four were opposed. Attorney Joe Moore reached out to the county representing three of the landowners opposed to the change. Moore addressed the historical significance of Purnell, a freed slave who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Colored Troops 19th Maryland Regiment.

“…the historical significance of freed slaves such as Ned Purnell is underlined by the fact that when the Union Army created quotas for service by soldiers in each Maryland county, Worcester County, because of its divided loyalties between North and South, would not have made its quotas but for the enlistment of African Americans, either freed blacks or manumitted slaves,” Moore wrote. “Because Ned obtained the rank of Sergeant, his leadership was recognized, as most all African American soldiers retained the rank of Private.”

Mitrecic made a motion to retain the name of Ned Purnell Lane for the private lane off Flower Street.

Commissioner Diana Purnell said Ned Purnell and his service in the Civil War had been researched by Dr. Clara Small. She said that with his historical significance she felt the road name needed to be retained.

Commissioner Ted Elder agreed and pointed out that the street name was the only recognition of Ned Purnell he was aware of.

“It’d be different if we had memorials to Ned Purnell somewhere else,” he said.

The commissioners voted 7-0 not to change the road name.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.